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The appeals process in Alabama

| Sep 4, 2020 | Firm News

Going to trial on a civil or criminal matter can be exhausting, time-consuming, and stressful for a Mobile resident. They may spend months of their life litigating or defending themselves on claims that they may or may not support. The outcome of their trial can be difficult, too, if they are not successful.

When a trial does not end to an individual’s liking or needs, they can choose to appeal the decision. Alabama appellate courts hear appeals and have the power to send decisions back to trial courts based on their findings. This post will briefly discuss the appellate process in Alabama, but as with all posts on this legal blog, not part of this post’s contents should be read as legal advice.

What is an appeal and what does it accomplish?

An appeal is a review of a decision at the trial court level. Trial courts are the courts of first hearing in Alabama and jurisdictions throughout the United States. It is in trial courts that evidence, arguments, and defenses are presented.

If a party to a trial court adjudication is unhappy with the outcome, they may elect to appeal the case to the appellate level. There are certain things that appeals courts can and cannot do when a case arrives from the trial level. Individuals who wish to appeal their cases may need to secure legal representatives who handle appeals.

What happens on appeal?

An appeal is not a new trial. The appeals court will not rehear all the evidence presented at the trial level, nor new evidence that the parties have discovered in the time between hearings. An appellate court will look at how the trial court handled the procedural and decision-making tasks of resolving the case. There are no juries at the appellate level, and parties cannot provide new witnesses or evidence to support their positions.

If an appellate court finds that a trial court made a mistake during its adjudication, it may return the matter back to the lower court for review. Trial courts can change their orders based on appeals, or may order different courses of action to resolve the parties’ legal differences. When preparing for an appeal, it is important that a party understands the differences between trial and appellate matters.

Why do parties choose to appeal their trial outcomes?

There are many reasons that individuals want to appeal their trial orders. They may not believe that their courts got the decisions right, or they may feel as though errors were made during the adjudicatory processes of their trials. The appeals process exists to right wrongs made at the trial level, and the decision to seek an appeal is a reasonable one for many trial level parties.

Before initiating an appeal, it can be helpful to an individual to talk to an appellate attorney. Appellate practice does differ from trial practice. Strong representation can help a person have confidence in the management of their legal situation.